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Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

It was all coming together now, finally.

Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – Chapter 35

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remainscan be found in full here

Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl  who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor. 

Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.

Chapter 35

We stopped for burgers in Beaver, Beaver Drive Inn, the burgers steaming hot, thick-cut french fries, drinks, Bobby had shifted his seat back from the steering wheel, and we had it all balanced on our laps, the papers spread out and the fry sauce cups leaning delicately against the emergency brake in the middle, windows rolled down, the air still and dry.

It made perfect sense, when I thought about it. Getting married. That could be our first step back. There’d be no more sin, which, if I looked straight at what I was doing with Bobby, well, it was pretty clearly a sin, even if we hadn’t gone all the way. And in Nevada, sixteen was what they call the age of consent.

I was looking for a place to put my drink, my “fresh lime” – 7-up and a lime wedge – and I noticed the back seat was clean.

“Where’s all your stuff?”

“I put a deposit on a place. I’ve started hoping for things again, these days. I guess, well, I hope you like it. We can find something else if you don’t.”

I had a fry halfway into my mouth, and that stopped me.

“I was just thinking, worrying about missing curfew at the dorm. Huh, I guess it won’t matter now, will it?”

Bobby shrugged apologetically.

“But, oh—! I wonder if the Academy has a rule about that? Bobby! Do you think they’ll still let me dance?”

I was terrified for a second, panicked, but Bobby put a hand over mine.

“They’d be crazy to let anything get in the way of that. Any company in the world would be lucky to get you. You know that, don’t you?”

I wasn’t so sure. Just last month the Academy was ready to kick me out. They wouldn’t really, would they? But maybe he was right, maybe some other company would take me. We could move away from Utah, and start fresh. Another company wouldn’t be so freaked out about brown skin, I bet. I bet they would know what to do with someone like me, I bet they would let me dance Snow Queen in the Nutcracker, or even Sugar Plum Fairy. Wasatch Ballet never would, I knew that, too.

Back on the road after Beaver, my bare feet propped on the dash, my hand airplaning out the window, I looked over at Bobby, one hand on the steering wheel, left arm resting on the windowsill. I could almost see that old light, like the very last crumbs of my vision, Bobby humming along with the radio, smiling.

It was all coming together now, finally.

I let myself fantasize about my brilliant career. Bobby at my side, I’d dance with the Joffrey, the Chicago Ballet, New York City Ballet, touring all over the world, dancing at the Paris Opera, in London, performances with Ballet Russes, photos of me in the newspapers, people gossiping about my mysterious companion, the Older Man, I’d be bigger than all of them, bigger than Margot Fonteyn, bigger than Suzanne Farrell, bigger even than the male dancers, Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Nijinsky, I’d be one name and school kids would know who I was, people who had never seen ballet in their lives will have heard of me, people would walk out of my performances changed forever, larger and more generous, understanding more about the universe than when they walked in, understanding more than I do, everything making sense for them in a way it never had before, football players and politicians and garbage men on break saying, No, you just have to see her dance, just go see her, then you’ll understand, couples would stop fighting and children would stare and sad and crazy and hopeless people would straighten up in their chairs and know what was wrong and how to fix it, would walk away from seeing my dance knowing how to talk to their parents or how to treat their children, they’ll empty their pockets for beggars on the street and walk around in a light, telling everyone who’ll listen, Just go see her dance, and you’ll know.

I could see sagebrush and desert, sloping down away from the highway, and in the distance, red rocks standing as tall as the buildings in Salt Lake, taller. We were getting closer to the state line.

I was so full of happiness, I was sure I would burst.

“Can we pull over for a minute?”

“You okay?”

Bobby pulled over to the shoulder and stopped. I yanked on my shoes and blasted out the door, out onto the desert, I ran as hard as I could straight out, away from the road, desert under my feet, not sand like people think, but coarse dirt, tan and brown, and things growing, patches of sage I dodged and jumped, eating up earth with every step, I ran until my ears filled up with my own heartbeat and my breath cranked out loud and ragged, finally making a wide arc back, I could see Bobby, and the car, my breath almost gone, sharp inside my chest, and I jumped straight up, as high as I could, raising my arms like I could reach right into heaven and pull it down, my hands wide open to hold Bobby, the desert, the whole world, heaven and earth and everybody in between.

“Do you love me?” I shouted back at Bobby.

He smiled and stretched his arms out wide.

“Yes,” he said, “I love you!”

I ran all the way back, headlong, happily, completely innocent of where I would land, my heart pulling me on, blind. I was sure this was it, this was what we were supposed to do, we were on our way, everything was going to be right, I wouldn’t screw it up this time, we could live in the light and hold hands in public and look the world straight in the eye.

“I love you, Alice,” Bobby whispered, a universe of hope speaking into my ear.

“Do you really want to marry me?”

“More than anything.”


Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California.  Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle. 

Read more stories by Caitlin Myer


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